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UNC hangs on behind RJ Davis for road win against Miami

Whew.

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Miami (FL) Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Road wins are not easy to come by this season, regardless of the opponent, and UNC had to hold on for dear life to come away with the 75-72 win against Miami on Saturday. It looked like the Tar Heels had the game well in control with about six minutes to go before a series of miscues and a Hurricanes run trimmed the lead to as few as one late. UNC managed to hang on despite not making a field goal over the final four minutes.

Carolina got just a single point from their bench in the win. Zayden High went 1-2 from the free throw line as the only offensive contribution from anyone outside the starting five. RJ Davis was excellent, scoring 25 points, making all eight of his free throws, dishing out five assists, and sinking five three-pointers. In a game where the Tar Heels attempted to make it rain threes, RJ’s were the only ones consistently falling.

Elliot Cadeau had 19 points and eight assists, but contributed five of the Heels’ 16 turnovers. Miami scored 22 points off those turnovers. While Miami turned the ball over 13 times, UNC scored just seven points off them. That differential was basically enough to keep the Hurricanes in the game. Add in eight missed free throws by UNC, a bit of a concern as of late, and UNC did quite a bit to make this closer than it probably should have been.

Armando Bacot and Harrison Ingram finished with 10 and 13 points, respectively, with Ingram hitting a couple huge threes and Bacot being a force on the glass with 15 rebounds. The 31 three-point attempts did a lot to limit Bacot’s touches inside, but he was effective when he got the ball.

The first half looked good for the Tar Heels before Miami went on a run to hold a one-point lead at halftime. UNC came out of the locker room on fire to retake the lead and put some distance between the two, but the Heels never managed to fully put them away. Even in the final minute of the game, Miami had a chance to win that was squandered with a blocked shot and a violation on an intentionally missed free throw. The win was an exhale more than anything.

Hubert Davis’ squad has proven that they are a very good team this season, but elements of the last few games have shown that they are not foolproof. Carolina let Miami back into things in the first half by launching threes at will. Giving away points via turnovers and missed free throws are completely in the team’s control, and it all matters in close games like this one. The Tar Heels just have to play a cleaner game if they want to have fewer nail-biters down the stretch.

Carolina hits the road again on Tuesday when they take on Syracuse.